TELLICO PLAINS-The Veterans Memorial
monument in downtown Tellico Plains will soon get a complete
The original Veteran's Memorial
monument was dedicated in May 2001 at its current location in a space
donated by the town in the historic town square. It was completed by
the Tellico Plains Post #240 of the American Legion, which solicited
funds from individuals to have their names included on the monument.
The structure was open and due to
weather damage, was deteriorated to the point of being a public
danger. In 2007, another volunteer group, several of whom were
members of the same American Legion group who created the monument,
was formed to reconstruct the memorial. Members of the former Tellico
Plains Chamber of Commerce where also involved in the project, which
continued through 2008.
Additional donations of materials and
money were solicited to fund the reconstruction project and
independent groups, such as Rolling Thunder, provided volunteer labor
to work on the structure.
At some point in the past few years,
after the structure was complete but finish work was left
uncompleted, the local volunteer group ran out of funds and
In September 2012, a Veterans Memorial
Monument Committee was established by the Tellico Plains City Council
to oversee refurbishment of the monument. The committee originally
comprised of Alderman Larry Harris, Mike Atkins, Ray Tallent and
The committee began contacting local
contractors to get written estimates/costs to complete the monument
in its current location.
"We brainstormed ideas from tearing
it down and starting over, to just completing what was already
started," said Harris. "The final decision was the best
compromise of cost and space available."
After months of meetings and planning,
the committee has created a plan to refurbish the monument. At the
March meeting of the Tellico Plains City Council, the board voted to
approve the Veterans Memorial Monument Committee's plans and allow
them to move forward with the project.
Plans include: a new copper-colored
standing-seam metal roof; cutting out the wall opposite of the
current opening to provide an open pass-through to the monument; completing the finish-trim woodwork inside and outside of the
structure; completing electrical wiring to include interior and
motion-activated lighting at the monument; and replacing all granite
slabs with ones that will fit properly in the current wall openings.
"Work may begin as early as next
month," said Harris. "Work should not take more than a few weeks
All veterans' names that are currently
displayed on the monument will be retained on the new granite slabs.
New names for the monument will also be accepted at no cost. Each of
the Tellico Plains branch banks and Tellico Plains City Hall have
blank forms to be filled out by those wishing to add new names to the
"Names will be accepted
continuously," said Harris. "They will be carved onto the new
plates in batches."
Forms can be dropped off at City Hall
and the committee will have a process to verify the veteran's
eligibility. Some kind of official documentation (copy of Form DD214) will be necessary to verify eligibility as a veteran who served in
the particular conflict.
In addition to the refurbishment plans,
there will be an eagle structure added to the top of the monument.
"It was Helen Cochran's idea to add
the eagle,” said Harris, noting the cost of the eagle is included
in the overall total cost of renovation.
The estimated cost of the project is $22,000, which the committee hopes to raise through fundraising
activities and donations. Donations may be made through any of the
Tellico Plains branch banks. Harris said they also hope to put a
donate button on the town's website.
"Rick Lavoie is working on it [the
donation button on the website] now," said Harris. "Hopefully all
will be up sometime this weekend."
Mayor Patrick Hawkins said a private
donor has given $5,600 to the monument project. There is roughly $7,600 in the bank account right now for the memorial.
"It's a pretty good start," said
Hawkins. "We want to get it back in decent order and looking good
for our veterans. It will look nice when it's finished."
Donated funds will be kept in an
account in the name of the town of Tellico Plains for the sole
purpose of monument reconstruction. Any excess funds not used in the
reconstruction will be kept in the account for upkeep and
Rolling Thunder is wanting to do some
fundraisers to help with monument refurbishment, said Harris.
In addition to the refurbished
memorial, students at Tellico Plains High School have assisted in the
development of a computer database, which will include all existing
monument names and new names in coming years. This database will be a
useful tool for family members to research their relatives.
"The database format is set, but the
data is not yet entered," said Harris. "TPHS students will work
on this project over time. It will eventually be available for
research, but probably not online. A location has not yet been
Harris hopes the monument refurbishment
will be something the town can be proud of.
"It should be an attractive monument,
in which the town of Tellico Plains can be proud of," he said. "It
will be a respectful recognition for our service veterans."
For more information, contact Harris
through Tellico Plains' City Hall at 423-253-2333.